Sport divers are a mellow bunch. At least that is what researchers
in South Africa found after studying anxiety and hostility among military
and recreational divers.
Both navy and recreational divers tend to have lower anxiety than
the average population. Lower anxiety is "important for divers, since
divers with low anxiety scores tend to have higher performance scores
than divers with high anxiety scores." Anxiety levels were lower among
older divers but were unaffected by diving experience. The
researchers noted, however, that a little anxiety is helpful in keeping
divers focused and cautious.
When it comes to hostility, the gap widens between sport divers
and military divers. Navy divers had a stronger urge to act out their
hostility and a pronounced tendency to be critical of others. While the
military divers are trained for hostile times, the researchers postulated
that the military may attract enlistees who recognize "a venue where
they can externalize their hostility without resulting in antisocial
behavior." Having passed the navy's diving course -- one of the most
demanding in the navy -- divers may have developed a superior selfimage
that makes them more critical of others.
They found this hostile trait also among other naval personnel,
but not among civilian divers, suggesting that increased hostility is due
to the subjects' military affiliation rather than their diving interests.
What's it all mean? Well, you can expect your fellow divers to keep
their cool, but if you're on a dive boat with an ex-Navy Seal, you may
want to watch your step.
-- Ben Davison